I am really into soccer now

Growing up, I was always a bit of a dark horse in my family. Most of the men on my dad’s side of the family were soccer fans. I consumed the sport pretty casually. I never played outside of recess. I chose Chelsea to be my club because everyone else liked red teams (United, Liverpool, Arsenal) and blue is my favourite colour – I wasn’t going to root for Everton or Spurs though, lol. So even through my young adult years, I would consume the odd big game or catch the headlines. But recently I moved in with my high school buddy of 14 years – Jonny. Jonny is a diehard soccer fan and I would talk about the game with him, play FIFA with him, and of course we’d watch games together. Somehow along the way, soccer became the sport that I watched more of these past few months than any other sport, it’s still my second favourite football though, as of now.

A few things that I absolutely love about sports are the sense of community, the fulfillment it brings people, and the expansive narratives with real stories and people. Playing the sport is great but they’re just games. It’s the people that make the sport feel bigger than life. It’s because of this sport that I made so many friends at the office. It’s the back and forth banter of clubs that have been in existence for over a hundred years – that’s the rich history, tradition, and narrative that we’re discussing.

I’m part of a work group chat that is super contentious at times. There’s a guy in it – who I don’t think is a bad guy but he holds his opinions as facts. I would say he’s pretty ignorant to a lot of things but he loves the game – it’s his personality. I don’t not understand where he’s coming from. This is what he’s staked his whole identity on, he is incredibly passionate about this. But he’s also part of that great community that I talked about. This game matters to people, it matters a lot. One of my favourite players ever – Didier Drogba literally stopped a civil war from happening in his home of Côte d’Ivoire from happening by playing for his nation during the African continental competition (AFCON).

This sport brings people together. It’s the most accessible team sport in the world. Besides people, you only need a ball and whatever you can use with your imagination to be goal posts. No pads, no registration fees, not even cleats if you’re just fooling around on a pitch casually during recess. There’s a reason why this sport is the largest and most popular sport in the world. Even if games are never on television, even if there were no professional clubs, or world cups – this game would still be the most popular game in the world due to its level of accessibility. I’m sure in some parts of the world it’s easier to get a game of soccer going than getting clean water or having a meal. That’s how accessible this sport is. So when I hear people say football is life – I believe them, because no matter where you go in life, no matter what age you get to – football will be a part of life there.

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